Why I didn’t like Tuchel.

Published: Monday, 15 March 2021

I spent the first couple of weeks of Thomas Tuchel’s time at Chelsea wondering why I didn’t like him.

I had all sorts of reasons. Here’s an ‘ist’ straight away. He didn’t look like a football coach. I’ve no idea what a football coach actually looks like - but whatever it is, Tuchel wasn’t it. And that, despite the fact, that he’d already come second in an on-line poll asking ‘who is the Premier League’s best looking manager?’

For the record, Scott Parker won it. I’m a little surprised that Guardiola or Mourinho didn’t, but what do I know? The bottom six weren’t a surprise! Anyway. I had to get over his looks.

Initially I wasn’t too happy with his ‘technical’ post match interviews - but at least he was looking interested and was engaging - unlike Guardiola, who always looks like there’s a bad smell in the air any time someone has the temerity to ask him about football.  

Tuchel would talk of ‘finding spaces for the 10. Closing down spaces for their 6 to operate in’. I’m sure I also heard him talking about ‘half spaces and pockets’. He has all the modern day jargon.

Was it the way he dressed? His team selections? Nope. It was neither of those either.

In some quarters he was getting aggro for his lack of ambition. The bore-draw with United did him no favours. But wasn’t making Chelsea more secure what Frank Lampard’s critics wanted?
So I was running out of reasons.

Hold on. Here’s another ‘ist’ - he was German and he’d replaced a fine young English coach. Do you know what? That was it. That was his only ‘crime’. I didn’t like what happened to Lampard.

In his first interview he apologised for that. Damn. That stopped me in my tracks. Of course he was right. It wasn’t his fault. The job was available and he looked like a teenage schoolboy fulfilling every ambition he’d ever had after his first game. He had to take it.

He was fun. He smiled. He got a result. He’s since still unbeaten. He’s got players playing. This is what I’ve been getting round to - I like him. I like him a lot.

I like the fact that he took a gamble and signed only an 18 month deal. He’s right about that too. Chelsea will probably sack him after that time, so why worry about it?

I like his attitude to players. He’s binned Lampard’s ridiculous fines system - saying ‘I haven’t got time to police fines’. He trusts his players. He treats them like men. My guess is that they’ll respond like men.

After their huge spend last summer I had Chelsea down to finish 2nd behind Liverpool. That worked out well eh? Liverpool won’t finish top - in fact, thinking about it - now might be the time to bring out that old tweet claiming Everton will finish in front of them! Chelsea definitely will. And I believe in Thomas Tuchel Chelsea have got themselves a smart coach and really good guy. I wish him nothing but success.

On another subject, the PL are asking managers/clubs how to get out of the mess they’ve made of VAR. Are we surprised? It’s been a shambles from day one and it was no better this weekend. Here are three things to do to improve it straight away. One - sack Mike Riley. What exactly has he been doing for three years for us to find ourselves in this mess? Two - appoint full time VAR operators. Ex-refs, not current match day officials. Of course refs are tired. Mourinho is right about that. He wouldn’t have said it if someone hadn’t whispered it in his ear. Riley has presided over a drop in standards the likes of which we’ve never seen, but let’s at least allow the guys to do their jobs without the distraction of days and days in the Stockley Park bunker. Three - give us access to listen to the ref and Stockley Park speak to each other. We MUST be allowed to listen to those conversations. That’s the only way we’ll stop the chumocracy looking after each other and constantly covering up their errors. I’d love to know what Michael Oliver said to Stockley Park when he gave Arsenal that ridiculous penalty. My guess is ‘I’ve got this one covered. I saw it. It’s definitely a pen’. Well you didn’t see it Michael. You were right behind the incident. You guessed. Your tone said to VAR ‘don’t you dare overrule me’. None of us like to be wrong - but you were. It wasn’t a pen and VAR should’ve been allowed to do it’s job. You intimidated Paul Tierney. If we hear those conversations that can’t happen. Why is it that football fans are always in the dark and treated with such arrogance when they ask to be part of ‘their’ game. It’s not Mike Riley’s game. Or any officials game. Its ‘our’ game.

One other thing was was obvious from the North London derby - Gareth Bale has gone. He’s no longer the player he was and won’t ever be again. He lost all that pace and doesn’t seem able to get around the pitch anymore. Yes, he’s still got a raking pass in him. Yes, he’ll nick the odd goal - but he’s a liability defensively. If I’m Spurs I’m not wasting money making his move permanent.

And finally. What have Sheffield United done? It’s hard without all the facts, but on the face of it I’d say they’re mad. Think about it - who would you say was the best man to get them back up next year? Someone with experience of the Championship? Someone who’s been promoted out of that league before? Someone who loves Sheffield and Sheffield United? Of course - Chris Wilder. Mad. The decision to let him go is mad. But here’s a thought....

Qualifying on two of those requirements - having worked in the Championship and being promoted from it - with big club experience - available due to lack of interest (I was told there would always be a queue of famous clubs) - wanting a ‘long term’ project again - Saudi money - it’s got to be Rafa hasn’t it? It’s all there waiting for him.